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Thrifting app made by varsity students sees growth

Lungile Msomi
By Lungile Msomi, ITWeb journalist
Johannesburg, 14 Aug 2023
Founders of Drip Markets Bernard Combrink and Wihan Joubert.
Founders of Drip Markets Bernard Combrink and Wihan Joubert.

Stellenbosch-based online marketplace Drip Markets has reached 5 000 users since its launch nearly a year ago.

The thrifting company − founded by University of Stellenbosch students Bernard Combrink and Wihan Joubert to help users sell and buy pre-loved clothing – has 4 000 downloads on the App Store and 1 000 downloads on the Google Play Store.

Drip Markets was created after Joubert saw there was a gap in the market for an online thrift marketplace after being accustomed to buying clothing on UK app Depop.

“It’s part of student life to buy cool vintage clothing, but we soon realised the impact of this application was far broader,” says Joubert.

Joubert, an investment management student, and Combrink, an accounting student, met in 2020 and worked over two years to realise their concept for an online marketplace. The pair developed the app with the help of Arnold Hattingh, an electrical engineering student who developed Djol, an app that finds dinner and drinks specials in Stellenbosch.

According to the Drip Markets website, users of the app create a profile and add items for other users to shop for after signing up. Before making a purchase, buyers can message sellers for more information on the item, although it is not a requirement.

Once a seller receives money for the item, it must be shipped to the buyer. The seller will only receive their funds once the buyer logs the item as “received” on the app.

Drip Markets says it takes a 5% flat fee on all items sold to cover admin fees, banking fees and other running costs. The company uses local fintech company Ozow to process payments on the app.

The pair became aware that the online marketplace could also advocate for sustainable fashion, saying that every sale on the platform removes the need to use additional resources.

“Drip Markets is not just about creating a platform to sell second-hand clothing; it is also an opportunity to tap into sustainable fashion. So, for example, every time a second-hand T-shirt is bought instead of a new one, 713 litres of water is saved,” explains Joubert.

Drip Markets is hosted on Google’s Firebase Cloud Hosting platform and Joubert says generative artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT helped the students with coding for the app.

The app is also about empowering people with the opportunity to make their own money, they note. Anyone can sell their clothing via the app, which is open to buyers and sellers around the country, but mostly caters for users in the Stellenbosch area.

The start-up was named by Stellenbosch Network as entrepreneur of the month in June.

It will soon expand its reach to other cities in South Africa, such as Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, to make it easier for buyers and sellers outside Stellenbosch.